Sam Smith's pick-by-pick analysis of the 2019 NBA Draft
Quick reactions from Sam Smith in real-time of the 2019 NBA Draft
Real-time analysis from each pick of the 2019 NBA Draft
1. Zion Williamson, Duke
New Orleans: Bulls hopes are dashed as the sources who may or may not know didn't really know. Turns out he was the Big Easy choice New Orleans pulls the mild surprise and selects Duke's Demolition Dunker Zion Williamson. Get your Bulls/Pelicans tickets now
2. Ja Morant, Murray State
Memphis: Who imagined I'd get both Nos. 1 and 2 in my mock draft. Suspicious minds understand why the Grizzlies are all shook up about Morant, the dynamic point guard and teddy bear for whom Memphis clearly plans to have a burning love. Some predict five years from now he'll be the best from this draft. They, however, are nowhere to be found now.
3. R.J. Barrett, Duke
New York: There were rumors the Pelicans were trying to trade up to enable Zion to play with his Duke teammate Barrett. Not that Williamson has clout with the Pelicans, but they are considering renaming the arena Cameron and playing some games in Zion (Illinois). The Knicks are counting on Barrett being the franchise's best left hander since Phil Jackson. OK, maybe Dick Barnett. Does Kevin Durant.want to play with him? Kyrie?
4. De'Andre Hunter, Virginia
Los Angeles: The Hawks have been probably the most aggressive in the draft with last year's swap that got them Trae Young for Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic. But they also got Dallas' first round 2019 pick, which they kept at No. 10 for this draft. It enabled them to trade picks their own No. 8, No. 17 from Brooklyn and 35 to move up for No. 4 to New Orleans. The Pelicans had the No. 4 pick from the Anthony Davis trade. The Hawks also took on the Pelicans contract of Solomon Hill of $13 million for next season. They've got a promising young core with John Collins and Kevin Huerter. Hunter is regarded as potentially a top defender. He's more the straight line driver who on the offensive end projects as that new NBA favorite 3-D player who is more the spot up shooter, a good fit with Young to open driving lanes.
5. Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
Cleveland: Forget all the top picks crying. Now it's Collin Sexton as the Cavs went for a point guard for the second consecutive year. But Sexton need not get too depressed. Garland, though about 6-2, is an excellent shooter who can play off the ball and complement Sexton in the new age NBA offense which promotes speed and shooting. Garland played just five college games after meniscus surgery , but his medical reports were positive. His father, Winston, played in the NBA as Garland was born in Gary, Indiana.
6. Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Phoenix: The first small surprise in the draft. The conventional wisdom was the Suns wanted a point guard. They traded the No. 6 pick to Minnesota for No. 11 and Dario Saric. So the presumption became the Timberwolves would select a point guard with Jeff Teague entering his final season. Culver is a versatile shooting guard with a solid mid range game, a player who also can be a secondary ball handler.
7. Coby White, North Carolina
Chicago: The Bulls love to say they can't believe (name of draft pick) was there when they picked. This time it's really, really true. The majority opinion was both point guards after Ja Morant--Darius Garland and White--would be selected before No. 7. The Bulls had long been probing for a point guard, and White fits the mold with something of a hair on fire attitude toward the game. Yes, they finally got Coby. OK, he's the other one, and OK he's more of a scorer than a conventional point guard. But White is a dynamic scorer who gives the Bulls a North Carolina guy who broke the freshman scoring record of that other North Carolina guy who worked out well for the Bulls in the 1980s and 1990s. The Bulls have been angling to upgrade the point guard position, which will be competition for Kris Dunn and also a chance for Dunn to perhaps mentor a young guard. White playing with Zach LaVine projects for the Bulls one of the league's fastest and most athletic backcourts in the NBA in years to come. Coby! Coby! Coby!
8. Jaxson Hayes, Texas
Atlanta: The Pelicans fill out their roster with a center. He's young and something of a project, but an athletic seven footer who complements No. 1 pick Zion Williamson at power forward with holdover Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram at small forward. The Pelicans thus rebuild their roster in a matter of weeks into one of the more athletic and potentially exciting young teams in the league.
9. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
Washington: They're a team in transition, though without John Wall not many fast breaks. He's the first native player from Japan to be a first round NBA draft pick and just the second player ever from Japan to play in the NBA. He's a versatile forward, though not the new model stretch four type player. It becomes a turning point for the Wizards with rumors they might consider trading star Bradley Beal with Wall out injured for next season. They also still have Dwight Howard. What this all means remains as much mystery as the nation's capital these days.
10. Cam Reddish, Duke
Atlanta: He's been considered a risky pick, though not so much by his family. The notion has been he's not always engaged about the game and might score 30 or three, that he deferred too much in college. Though his teammates were Zion and Barrett. He's got an excellent shooting stroke and will have a chance to develop with a potentially exciting young Hawks team led by Young. Cam says he Can.
11. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
Minnesota: He became the first, 'Hey, they really picked him that high?' But after the first seven or eight picks, this draft has been considered wide open. Though it's an historic selection in a sense with the first consecutive Cams in NBA history in the draft lottery. The Suns get him with Dario Saric from Minnesota for the No. 6 pick, which the Timberwolves used for Jarrett Culver. Are you getting dizzy yet? With the Suns passing on chances to get a point guard or trading for Mike Conley, it suggests the Suns will go hard in free agency for a point guard. Or just shoot without anyone much dribbling.
12. PJ Washington Jr., Kentucky
Charlotte: He's one of those hard playing undersized power forwards who all get compared to Draymond Green now, but generally can't handle the ball and run the floor like he can. Though he fits the tough guy mold. There had long been talk they were targeting him and for a change at draft time it was true.
13. Tyler Herro, Kentucky
Miami: He's the type who could be a hero toward the end of the game as one of the better (best?) shooters in the draft. He doesn't fit those long arm measurables executives like so they can charge a lot of expensive meals in Chicago during the Draft Combine. Not the big time athlete, but he rarely ever has missed a free throw and probably outshoots Steph Curry from the line. How about getting in the same sentence with Curry already?
14. Romeo Langford, Indiana
Boston: He had the excuse year playing with a bad thumb that apparently impacted his shooting. He's one of those guys about whom more was expected. So perhaps Boston sees more there. But with a team filled with wing players you sort of wonder what Boston is up to.
15. Sekou Doumbouya, France
Detroit: He's a very young, athletic slashing player whom the Bulls were even eying as high as No 7. He's clearly not a player ready to contribute immediately for a team with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond who have been on the edge of the playoffs hoping to move higher. So will they begin to discard players and go for a rebuilding? They'll be a team to watch.
16. Chuma Okeke, Auburn
Orlando: He was having a heck of an NCAA tournament for Auburn before suffering an ACL tear that probably will have him out next season. So he was being mostly being projected as a second round pick. He played sharp defense while a clutch shot maker, so a lot will depend on his recovery. He adds to a roster of long armed young big men with Mo Bamba almost having another rookie season after being injured last season.
17. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
Brooklyn: So the Pelicans also did get a point guard as they moved off No. 4, where many believed they might select Darius Garland. Alexander-Walker is not the great athlete, but somewhat similar to his cousin with the Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He's got good size and is a good shooter and gets to join the party in the city perhaps most known for parties.
18. Goga Bitadze, Buducnost (Georgia)
Indiana: With the success of Nikola Jokic in Denver, the unathletic, skilled big man becomes a commodity in the NBA. The Pacers lack size, so he may be able to fit in and contribute immediately as a tested European pro who was voted the rising star player, a designation previously awarded to Nikola Mirotic.
19. Luka Samanic, Olimpija (Croatia)
San Antonio: He sounds like one of those guys the Spurs send overseas and they come back as an All-Star. He's a 6-10 scoring forward who needs the predicted and expected development
20. Matisse Thybulle, Washington
Boston: Does this mean they're not paying Jimmy Butler? Probably not, but he fits the Jimmy profile of a defensive oriented forward who has the abilities to improve his shooting.
21. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Oklahoma City: He could be a value pick as an undersized and relatively short armed forward who plays much bigger than all he measureables, which suggests the cliche of the larger heart, He's a fabulous weak side shot blocker who is somewhat reminiscent of the one time second round pick Paul Millsap. Another impressive athlete for a quietly developing Grizzlies team.
22. Grant Williams, Tennessee
Boston: Really, another wing player. He doesn't necessarily have all the basketball skills, but a lot of the intangibles of leadership,a good mid range game and an unselfish player. Just what the Celtics are doing with all those draft picks becomes somewhat uncertain
23. Darius Bazley, Princeton High School (Ohio)
Utah: He's the high school guy who skipped the year of college, the G-league or overseas to work out for the NBA draft. Though he still looks pretty skinny. He's one of those big time athlete projects whom the NBA will see more of in years to come as the league and players association consider high school to pros again. Sigh.
24. Ty Jerome, Virginia
Philadelphia: One of the players with a rare comparison to Greivis Vasquez. Something of the Ryan Arcidiacono type who seems too slow and unable to defend well enough. But he does it and makes plays, smart, tough and competitive. He's rumored to be headed to the Suns.
25. Nassir Little, North Carolina
Portland: By the pre draft standards, he didn't fall a little but a lot. Probably because he's the hard worker type without the stand out basketball skills. An explosive player, but more of a slasher.
26. Dylan Windler, Belmont
Cleveland: The mid major player from Belmont in Tennessee isn't the top athlete, but he's a top shooter in an NBA and a draft in which shooting becomes even more important than size. Like they'd say about size, you can't teach it. It also seems to help to know how to shoot.
27. Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State
Brooklyn: He wasn't starting at Florida State, but has been that late comer type at center who was an unusually efficient scorer. His uncle is Dikembe Mutombo and he's working on his blocked shot warning finger.
28. Jordan Poole, Michigan
Golden State: Will Klay Thompson become the Wally Pipp of the NBA and shooting guard Poole the Lou Gehrig replacement? Nah, but the Warriors even with all those injuries are expected to be asked to play all 82 games.
29. Keldon Johnson, Kentucky
San Antonio: One of those players who'll get the "solid" adjective mentioned most often, Not the great athlete, but does enough that the Spurs may make him look like Manu.
30. Kevin Porter Jr., USC
Milwaukee: He's the big time prospect who on talent has been regarded top 10, but questioned over off court issues that led to a suspension at USC. The Cavs are rumored to be trading for the pick.
Got a question for Sam?
Submit your question to Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.